Saturday, August 27, 2005

Roadie Report 6 (Aug Tour & Jim McGuinn Meets Gene Clark) by Camilla McGuinn

August 2005 Tour

I woke up Saturday morning, August 20th, groggy from a short night of sleep. We wanted to get an early start for the 2970-mile journey to Moses Lake, Washington. In planning the trip, we felt that seven days would be a comfortable length of time to make the drive before the Saturday, Aug 27th concert.

The week had been spent diligently working on THE FOLK DEN PROJECT. The ten-year anniversary of the creation of the FOLK DEN will be in November and we want to release a 4 CD box set at the November 27, 2005 concert being presented at Roger’s alma mater, Chicago’s OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC. The school is where he learned to play guitar and banjo. It is also where he fell in love with the melodies and lyrics of folk songs. We felt that a celebration of the FOLK DEN PROJECT should be enjoyed at the place of its inspiration.
(A modern photo of the Troubadour. Roger says it hasn't changed since the 1964.)

The actual Folk Den was the small front room in the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood, California. Musicians were welcome to gather there and jam. Doug Weston, the owner, was a generous man who often fed starving musicians. "Skinny McGuinny", Bobby Darin's moniker for Jim (Roger), lived on those hamburgers. In 1964 Jim was the opening act for Roger Miller and Hoyt Axton on the Troubadour stage. Gene Clark was in the audience and he liked Jim’s idea of combining folk music with a Beatle beat, so introduced himself. They began writing songs together. One day as they were jamming in the Folk Den, a student actor turned folk musician, heard them singing. He walked over and added an incredible harmony. During Jim’s first trip to Los Angeles in 1960 to accompany the Limeliters, he had spent a couple of weeks hanging out with the actor/singer. The trio’s voices blended beautifully that day in the Folk Den, but Jim wasn’t sure he wanted to work with this harmony songbird. He changed his mind when David Crosby mentioned that he had a friend who would let them record in a studio for free. The incubation of the BYRDS had begun. It all started in the Troubadour’s Folk Den.

Memories of those days and the purity of the pursuit of music inspired Roger to call his folk preservation project, the FOLK DEN.

Roger had recorded the songs for the FOLK DEN for free download in 11 KHz 8-bit .wav files, but he decided that for the box set, he would re-record the songs in CD quality. He had been working on the recordings for a while, but in this week before the August tour, we had to get the information for the CD booklet ready for the graphic artist. The photographs, text and the 100 songs had to be selected.

Sequencing the 4 CD set with 25 songs a piece, was a time consuming process. After Roger arranged the initial sequence, we listened to all the songs in their entirety so we could feel the flow of the CD. Some changes had to be made and when they were, a new CD would be burned and we would listen in entirety again. While we listened to the sequence, we would make notes for enhancing each song. We did that in the mornings. The afternoons were spent with all the other details, not to mention the normal office work that always demands my attention.

I put off packing until Friday night and even though my rule for suitcases is always just one bag, be it for three days or thirty; the office requirements for a month long tour needed a lot of concentration. It was 11:40 when I crawled into bed hoping I hadn't forgotten anything really important.

At 8am, everything was in the van and as I was making my final walk through the house. I had a thought that I should locate our passports so I could give directions to Michael, our house guardian, just in case we required them on the road. Since we would be on the West Coast, maybe we would need to fly to Japan for a sudden concert. I’m always on the lookout for another adventure.

I walked to the passport location while reviewing the directions in my mind. I opened the drawer. They weren’t there. I went through moments of disbelief and mild panic. Where were they? I’m sure I had put them in a safe place. There lies the problem; I have put things in very safe places before and have lost them for years.

Roger and I both looked for the passports in all the normal places. Finally Roger, said it was time to go and we would find them when we returned. On this tour, I would have to be satisfied with an American adventure and no surprise jaunts to islands far away.

Getting behind the wheel of the van at the beginning of a tour is exhilarating. The excitement of looking forward to days filled with new horizons and the anxiety of wondering if I’d forgotten anything important, always makes backing out of our curved driveway a little more difficult.

Roger turned on the TV and reclined in the back passenger seat. The GPS units were programmed to receive their signals with the directions to Moses Lake. I eased into the I-4 traffic while listening to the sounds of the TV newscaster coming from the back of the van. All of a sudden, “Cherry”, the front GPS said, “Recalculating route.” I hollered back to Roger, “What did I miss?” I had not paid attention to the GPS unit when it told me to take the Florida Turnpike exit. We weren’t even 4 miles from home and I was lost! Roger started laughing and “Cherry” gave me new directions to get me back on the right track.

We made it to Dalton, Georgia before sunset. After good meal and a short walk back to the hotel, we jumped on the beds like little kids and rejoiced that we were on the road again.

The Tennessee River (Photo by Camilla McGuinn)

The weather in Florida had topped the thermometer with record breaking heat, so the cool morning air in the foothills of Georgia was a delight. We were on Interstate 75 by 7am. After an hour of driving, the sun was glistening on the waterways and I wanted to take a picture. We stopped at the Tennessee River near the Nickajack dam. I walked down about 70 steps, then navigated a concrete drainage ditch to get to the water’s edge. The serenity of the morning sun on the still water provided me with a wonderful feeling of peace. Trudging back up the steps provided me with a good amount of exercise.

During Roger’s driving shift, I realized I needed something from one of the bags. Once again I went through moments of disbelief and mild panic. The bag wasn’t in the van. We had left it 300 miles behind us at the hotel. I called the Hampton Inn. Lisa contacted the housekeeping department while I waited anxiously holding my cell phone. They found the bag. She very graciously said they would send it to Moses Lake.

In two days, I had lost the passports, lost my way and lost a suitcase. We joked about calling this the lost tour. Well if we’re going to get lost, we are going to some beautiful parts of the country to do it in. We once heard a trucker on the CB radio say, ‘If you’ve got a full tank of gas. You’re never lost.”